Ansley Gilich returns to the classroom at St. Alphonsus Catholic School

While the world was being introduced to coronavirus last year, Ansley Gilich was introduced to a different disease: B-Cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Just weeks before the nationwide COVID-19 shutdown, Ansley left St. Alphonsus and would not return for nearly a year.

This morning, Ansley was finally reunited with her classmates.

St. Alphonsus students with hand-made signs waited patiently for the return of their classmate who had been absent from school for nearly a year.

Eight-year-old Ansley Gilich was in the first grade when she was diagnosed with leukemia last March and has been unable to return to school until now.

Originally, Ansley was set to make her return to St. Alphonsus Monday, however, due to a possible COVID exposure in the school community, the princess warrior’s homecoming was put off. Ansley’s mother, Michelle Gilich said, “Saturday night she had her uniform all laid out and then– so it was really sad when she couldn’t go Monday but– so she laid out everything last night and got up and got dressed and, but she was really quiet on the way over.”

With Ansley’s immune system no longer completely compromised, her doctor gave the second grader the green light to get back in the classroom. “The masks and the fact that they take temperatures when they come in helps us feel– and it’s a small school, so it helps us feel okay with her coming. Still a nervous wreck.”

While Ansley was unable to attend school, her teachers made sure she didn’t fall behind. “Her teachers are amazing. They’ve come over to our house many, many times to help. When she’s felt down and doesn’t want to do work, we’ve come up with new ways to get her interested in school again.”

First grade teacher Jan Gruich said, “She’s such a smart little girl. We were not worried about her academically at all. All we wanted was for her to get well.”

It was the same teachers that first alerted the Gilich family last year that something with Ansley seemed off. Teacher Assistant Beverly Forehand said, “You would ask Ansley and she’s like I feel okay! Yes, ma’am! I feel okay! But we knew something was not right with her.”

Ansley still has 14 months left of her treatment. She continues to take chemo pills every day and has infusions every 12 weeks. “Through this whole ordeal, she’s always had a smile on her face.”

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